Welcome to The Cage

Tunnel Trouble

Elemental Plane of Air

As the group woke from their rest – Witherton having been prevented from sleepwalking out the cave by Gerald’s zombies – a couple of them became aware of growling drifting in from outside the miniature cavern. Apparently, the Shadow Mastiff has roused and found itself without a pack and in an unfamiliar place with little-to-shadows. Taking turns throwing rations to the creature, the group lured it into the cave as they exited it. Garrick began to seal the beast inside, when they were startled by the sudden appearance of a large, blue-skinned man wearing garb that reminded them of distant lands to the east of their home, of rolling dunes of sand and a hot, unforgiving sun.

The Djinn, who identified himself as “(NAME)” the Fantastic, was patrolling what he described as his ‘domain’ when he happened on this ragtag band of outsiders apparently trapping an innocent creature in a – to his sensibilities – offending clump of filth that was polluting his clear pristine skies. Silt, being a native of the plane, had nothing but contempt for what she felt was a pompous, self-important member of the haute bourgeois. However, the party managed to deflect her distain for the pretentious powerhouse long enough to suggest they help the Djinn move the offending mote into a neighboring region, one presided over by another Djinn by the name of (NAME).

Ever quick on the uptake, Gerald wished for the means to help maximize the groups ability to turn the slight into a full-blown prank. It was a wish the Djinn was all too happy to grant; suddenly, everyone in the party could cast one 4th level spell of their choosing (regardless of class) to enhance what they were about to do. Gerald dumped the bodies of the other slain mastiffs into the cave and reanimated them; Misty (with some instruction from Gerald about the politics of Air Society) summoned a number of Smoke Mephits – whose very presence would be an offense – into the cave; Silt conjured a small pack of Blink Dogs and Pixies to cram into the cave; Garrick used Hallucinatory Terrain to further the offense by making the chunk of rock and dirt look and smell like something from the Para-Elemental Plane of Ooze; Witherton crammed Mordenkainen’s Faithful Hound into the cave; and finally, Izerah shaped a portion of the rock to resemble the object of their ridicule. Another wish was granted, extending the duration of the spell and the surprise package was sent on its way with a fond farewell … and some wise advice that they group should probably avoid the Plane of Air for a decent period of time. A prank of this magnitude would likely not be forgotten for a while.

Back at the portals, the group (Izerah included) decided that it was probably not a good idea to return to Limbo and opted for the portal to the unknown …

Elemental Plane of Earth

… and landed in a stuffy subterranean enclosure, surrounded on all sides by rock and soil (not a huge inconvenience, since everyone in the party had darkvision). Silt, being a flier from the Plane of Air, was NOT happy, struggling to maintain her composure. Inspecting what appeared to be a naturally occurring space, with no worked stone apart from the the exit portal, Garrick discovered a section of the wall that appeared to be the result of a small cave-in. Using his abilities to move earth – enhanced by the plane itself – the druid began uncovering a passage leading away.

Unfortunately, the vibrations caused by the Goliath’s efforts drew the attention of an Earth Elemental. Puma barely had time to shout a warning as two massive arms of stone burst from the wall to pummel Garrick. The party quickly moved up to support him, causing the elemental to withdraw back into the wall. Realizing that the entity was still nearby, the party readied actions and cautiously moved further into the tunnel, discovering several branching routes.

Izerah wondered over to look down the right-hand passage, resulting in another attack. Several readied actions drove it off a second time, but not before it landed a pair of brutal strikes on the githzerai monk. Fed up with hit-and-run tactics, Witherton approached the wall and began beating on it with his staff, determined to draw the elemental out and finish it off for good. Gerald and his zombies joined him and soon they found themselves face-to-face with their quarry. Having determined that this particular elemental was vulnerable to damage, they focused their attacks to use that particular energy type and made short work of the pest.

Garrick, being impatient, continued wandering down one of the tunnels, content to let the party catch up to him. Arriving at another intersection, he discovered another caved-in section. As the group debated excavating it, or going in the other direction to see if the caves looped around, Misty suddenly found herself surrounded by a trio of clawed arms erupting around her, as the ground beneath her split open to reveal a toothy maw – the kleptomanical tabaxi having attracted a Xorn with the coins and gems she kept secreted on her person. The group made short work of this second attacker and Misty, realizing that it was after her ‘shinies’ started hacking into the remains of the Xorn to see if it had anything of value in its gullet. She was rewarded with a small handful of gemstones – primarily emeralds.

The group then tried to get some bearing in the branching tunnels and discussed what direction they should go next.

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Flame & Shadow

Sigil

Tired of waiting around doing nothing, Gerald paced the Portal Gallery, looking for a painting he felt would get him somewhere close to where he imagined the party to be. He chose a landscape depicting green algae-covered water, framed by moss-covered stones and ferns sprouting randomly from grassy humps rising out of the mud, all sitting in the shadow of skinny, moss-covered trees. It was beautiful, in it’s own way; but beauty was not what drew the Necromancer – it was simply the fact that when Gerald thought of his companions, a swamp seemed to be the most fitting analogy.

Arborea

Splashing down into the scene, Gerald immediately noticed several details that had not been captured in the painting – the bodies of a nearly a dozen vegepygmies floating in the water around a pair of pillars surmounted by a circular symbol. Unable to discern anything about his comrades’ whereabouts from the pillars, he began looking for clues. Uncovering several distinctive sets of footprints in front of one of the pillars, he stepped through …

Elemental Plane of Fire
To find everyone huddled around the exit portal. Just a few feet beyond them the distortions could be seen in the sweltering heat of the air as flames of nearly every color danced across the ever-burning landscape. In the distance some of them could just make out the gleaming City of Brass, though it was far too distant for them to reach safely. Closer, though, they could see the next two portals sitting undisturbed in their own protective bubble. The group would have to find a way safely across the deadly expanse.

As the group tried to discern exactly what they risked by stepping outside of the portal’s aura, a mighty screech tore the air. A scarlet wyrmling came flying over a nearby hill. Landing on one of the far portals, a claw scraped against one of the blue sapphires in the circular symbol, resulting in a flash and a release of arcane energy that, while not fatal, was enough to drive the young Red Dragon off.

Tired of waiting further, Gerald cast protection from energy on himself and decided to brave the singular element that stood between them and their way out of the unyielding furnace of the plane. Zilia was able to cast the same spell, but only three times, so the group had to decide who would rely on speed, and who would get the arcane protection. Puma, Misty, and Silt all decided to run for it, completely disrobing and storing their belongings in Silt’s Bag of Holding before taking a deep breath and – quite literally – running for their lives. Garrick, Witherton, and finally Zillia joined them in the safe space around the two exit portals a few moments later.

Puma, in trying to uncover some meaning behind the symbols began voicing theories to himself which resulted in an unfamiliar voice popping into his head to compliment some of the ideas, but saying the system in place wasn’t that organized. Finally falling back on Silt’s insistence that the symbols with more of the onyx sections in them were somehow better than those without, the group stepped through into …

Plane of Shadow

A dark forest. Looking up into the night sky, no stars or moon could be seen. Neither could anyone hear any noise – not crickets, or owls, or even wind. Nothing but stillness and a world rendered in shades of gray. The exit portals were not immediately visible, instead, someone happened to catch a glimpse of them in the distance, where they appeared to be somewhat obscured behind an object of some sort.

The party decided to move stealthily to avoid any confrontations. Unfortunately, Zilia’s heavy stomps snapped a branch, the sound echoing in the darkness. It was returned by a unnerving howl in the distance. Dropping the attempt at stealth, the party ran full speed to the portals, not quite making it before a pack of Shadow Mastiffs, led by an Alpha with a fear-inducing howl, crested the hill.

Several members of the party were shaken by the eerie sound and would not approach the pack. Fortunately, a few members managed to shake off the effect and charged into the fray. It was also fortunately that a number of the adventurers managed to land some solid blows before the beasts counter-attacked, vanishing into the darkness. Nearly all of the creatures disappeared into the shadows, except for one that Garrick managed to entangle in an area of twisting vines and grasping weeds.

As the party continued to try and whittle down the pack – Witherton unleashing both a tremendous thunderclap and a sickening aura that made all within it start to glow a sickly green color – Gerald waded into the weeds and charmed the lone Mastiff, feeding it some of the meat he had been carrying in his own Bag of Holding. Once all of the other mastiffs had fallen, Gerald used his skill with animals (enhanced by the ongoing charm) to use the surviving member of the back as a mount.

Puma, in particular was interested in the thick post holding three gibbets and their skeletal occupants, which was the object partially obstructing the portals from the previous exit. A forth gibbet had been broken down, it’s marginally less decomposed contents revealing an interesting detail – the body had been pulled up against the bars of the cage, and a chunk of the skull removed in such a way that those of the party who had endured the memories of the vampire illithid were all too familiar with. But this amount of rust and decay indicated that this event could not have happened less than around twenty years ago.

Needing a rest, but afraid to do so in their current setting – mainly due to Witherton’s announcing their presence to everything in the region and furthered by the prospect of mindflayers being around – they began to debate which portal to use. Recognizing one of the symbols as having been on the portal to the Elemental Plane of Air back in the Feywild, the group decided to return to the relatively safe plane they knew over the one they did not.

Elemental Plane of Air

As Gerald cast Suggestion on the Shadow Mastiff, encouraging it to sleep. Garrick excavated a small floating moat of earth to create a cozy little cave in which the group could rest. Izerah, for her part, pulled out an ornately gilded tome from her Effecient Quiver and began to study it intently, growing in wisdom as she pored over the magical book that she had secretly ‘borrowed’ from her monastery back in Limbo.

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New Faces, New Places
In which a Limbo contest occurs

Feywild – 17 Sast, 1816 (Sigil Time)

Silt and Misty were frustrated that another guest had stepped into the gallery. As they peppered the purple skinned tiefling with questions, he looked around dejectedly. “Well, they’re not here,” he sighed, his form fading away to reveal a dark-furred tabaxi standing in his place, “I am Puma.” This only led to more questions, which cat-man was happy to answer. It turned out that he was an assassin, and that one of the guests at the gala had a contract out on them. Puma had hoped to catch his quarry unawares in one of the portals, but the unforeseen behavior of the portals and the missing guests threw a wrench into those plans.

Shrugging, the two adventurers returned to their debate as to whether they should go after Hesken, who had been thrown (in the form of a slug) through a portal, while three of their number has passed through the other portal. Eventually deciding to keep the majority of the party together, they followed after Witherton, Garrick, and Igor, with the mysterious Puma in tow.

Elemental Plane of Air

Witherton was roused from his long rest when the three figures appeared suddenly from the portal he had entered. Recognizing Silt and Misty, he emerged from hiding towing a bundle of Aaracokra corpses behind him. After successfully coaxing the owl-woman into stowing the bodies in her bag of holding for Gerald back in Sigil, the group spied a enormously large bird headed their way and decided to leap into one of the portals, emerging into a swirling of elemental chaos. Huddled on the small floating rock that held the portal they had just passed through, the group gazed out over the tumultuous ever-changing environment of Limbo.

Limbo

After some experimentation, the group realized that they could exert a measure of control and stability over small sections of the plane. Having spied what appeared to be a small island of tranquility some distance away, on which the next two portals stood waiting, they began their perilous journey across swirling vortices of unshaped matter and energy. As they got closer to their goal, they realized that they were not alone – there was a figure sitting calmly before the two portals. They tried to shout across to the individual, but either their voices did not carry outside of the small pockets of atmosphere they’d created, or the person was focused on something else.

Once they reached the floating isle and it’s inhabitant, the figure stood to reveal herself as a Githerzerai monk. Introducing herself as Izerah, the group noticed the painting of the portals she had been working intently on. The monk expressed curiosity at their recent appearance and purpose. The travelers explained, in general terms, the events that led to their current predicament, and their intent to continue through one of the two portals before them.

Intrigued by their tale, Izerah proposed a duel of Wills, for if they could prove able of surviving the uncertainty of Limbo, they would surely be able to handle the unknown lying beyond the next portal. The monk also confessed to wanting to test herself, as she was aspiring to greater enlightenment and capability in the spirit of her Order. Witherton was quick to step forward, asking “How do we begin?”

He received his answer when the ground beneath his feet turned to water.

Thinking quickly, Witherton pushes the water down and turns it into dirt beneath his feet. From his lower position, he secretly casts Hex on Izerah, giving her disadvantage on all her Will checks. From there, it was all down hill for the monk, as she was consistently subjugated to Witherton’s influence on the environment. Eventually ending up in a sphere of barbed wire, she yielded, still trying to figure out how she had been bested. Never one to pass up an opportunity, Misty (on behalf of Witherton, of course) requests Izerah’s painting of the portals as a reward for besting her.

As the group started considering which new portal to use, a hideous croaking laughter drew their attention to several Red Slaad surfing the elemental chaos towards them. The adventurers send a few arrows their way and bail, asking the Githzerai to join them. Her curiosity overriding her caution, she quickly packs up her supplies and follows them through the portal just before the Slaad reach them.

Arborea

Splashing down into a swamp, the group immediately prepares for the possible pursuit by the Slaad. Fortunately, the frog-like creatures either could not – or would not – use the portal. Puma turns to scan the area, spying the next set of portals sitting on one of the few stable dry patches of land in the area. The tabaxi assassin realizes they’re not alone, spying motion in the underbrush, but not detecting any of the expected reptilian or amphibious threats.

Moving part of the way to the portals, the party is suddenly assailed by stones being flung at them from the undergrowth by a hunting party of Vegepygmies. Seemingly making short work of their attackers, the group hurries to the portals, only to be enveloped by cloud of spores released by the Vegepymy chief hiding behind one of the portals. Most of the group was able to shrug off the poisonous effects, but Silt and Misty had unfortunately gasped when the small creature surprised them, taking in a damaging lungful. Silt eventually managed to vomit up the spores, but Misty succumbed to the toxins in her system and fell unconscious.

As Witherton worked to revive the tabaxi, the fallen forms of the Vegepygmies believed to be slain began to stir and regenerate, rising to fling more stones at the confused adventurers. Surely these miniscule plant-people could not be that big of a threat? Puma realized that the chief he had slain with his enchanted sword was unable to recover due to the arcane energies contained within. Informing Witherton and Silt, the three of them put their antagonists down permanently using a mixture of fire-, cold-, and necrotic-powered attacks.

The group opted to take a short rest as Izerah artistically rendered the portals – paying close attention to the symbols on them – and decided to move forward before being attacked by another hunting party. Stepping through, they found themselves quickly breaking a sweat in the intense heat of the Elemental Plane of Fire.

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Feywild Fatality
Pixies suck

In the Feywild, Igor meddled with the portals, attempting to get some sense of where they led. Upon trying to toss a string with a dead rat tied to the end, they pulled the strings back across the portals only to find the rats had been replaced – or possibly transformed – into twigs. It was impossible to tell. When the firbolg stuck his arm through, he got a sense of the weather and climate, but not much else to go on. All in all, things were not as certain as they would have liked. Eventually, Igor, Witherton, and Garrick picked a portal and walked through it.

When Hesken attempted to follow them, however, he found himself Confused by fairy magic and began wondering off into the field in which the portals were located. Silt, already unhappy at being shoved through the portal, soured even further as she fell victim to fairy trickery; the owl-woman was polymorphed into a massive Storm Giant, one that could not fit through the portals. Misty stayed with her friend, but took pains to avoid drawing any unwanted attention to herself from the invisible swarm of pixies that hovered around them.

Having stepped through one of the portals to the Elemental Plane of Air, Witherton, Igor, and Garrick noticed a couple of floating rocks in the distance bearing two more stone arches with different symbols from the ones they saw back in the Feywild. Lazily circling the portals was a pack of vulture-esque Aaracokra, who were now heading their direction. The trio quickly dispatched the scavengers in a fight punctuated by Witherton’s use of the magical Staff of Thunder & Lighting. As they debated which portal to take, the noticed some strange movement in one of the nearby clouds – the commotion had attracted a nearby Air Elemental, which turned out to be a bit tougher than the birdmen. Eventually, they were able to weaken the entity to where they were able to catch it in one of Kelmen’s elemental spheres. The three adventurers attempted to hide themselves in the sparse surroundings for a short rest. Unfortunately, the large form of the goliath druid was hard to hide. When a second Air Elemental arrived, drawn by the thunder wave(s) used in the previous battle, it dove straight for Garrick. After another short-but-brutal skirmish, the group decided to take turns on guard to allow for a short rest, before marking the portal they intended to take with chalk. About that time, a folded piece of parchment came floating in from the portal through which they had arrived.

Back in the Feywild, Hesken’s confusion took an unfortunate turn when he attack and instantly killed a sprite. A chorus of horrified gasps could be heard as the dragonborn was quickly Entangled, poisoned into unconsciousness, and polymorphed into a slug – which was then carried by invisible hands to the second portal and tossed through. Silt and Misty took pains to avoid drawing the fairies ire as the bird-woman tried to manipulate her massive form and pass the time playing dragon chess.

Landing with a thud on a sandy beach, Hesken – now back in his regular form, spotted a pair of new portals some distance away. As he began walking towards them, he realized that he was not alone – a group of Sahaugin came stalking ashore, their ill intent obvious. Blessed by both Paladine and using his natural abilities, Hesken drove all but three of the attackers back into the ocean while laying into the remaining three in combat. On the verge of success, the frightened members of the raiding squad attempted to launch a large shark at the dragonborn, succeeding only in killing one of their remaining fighters. Hesken withdrew to heal and see what would happen, not comfortable travelling through another portal by himself and potentially dividing the party even further.

The Sahaugin took the opportunity to summon a champion of their own, a Sahaugin Baron, who led the others ashore and proceeded to swarm the isolated Paladin. Despite fighting valiantly against overwhelming odds, Hesken was soon felled, his armored form dragged to the murky depths by the foul fish-men.

Back in the gallery, Gerald occupied himself with hors d’oeuvres and grumbled to no one in particular about the non-existence a plane such as the Feywild. After casting Suggestion to help Caspian Galashield in his desperate attempt to distract the other party goers and keep anyone else from wandering into the tampered portals, he found himself in conversation with another hired hand for one of the party’s guests. Apparently, their boss was among those who yet to reappear and they wanted to find out what was going on. After learning from Gerald that the rest of his group had disappeared into the (non-existent) Feywild, the mysterious stranger stepped through after them. Leaving the necromancer to wonder if this person too had stepped into non-existence.
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Perilous Portal Partypooper

16 Sast, 1816 – Sigil

Heksen awoke well after everyone else the next morning to a nausea, a pounding headache, and the realization that someone was in his room. Sitting up, he saw Astrid, proprietor of the Alehouse Drake, sitting patiently across from him. After letting him know in polite, but no-uncertain terms that he very nearly wore out his welcome the night before with his drunken tantrum, she proceeded to ask him what was going on. Hesken talked of his frustration at losing – especially to a heretic – and his misgivings about the party and how to reconcile his faith with the mysterious reasons for his being recruited by the Lady to combat the Darkness. Astrid left him with a question – Who were you fighting for down in that pit? – and a bucket in which to throw up, returning to serve breakfast to the rest of the party downstairs.

The rest of the party had a visit from Etain, who had been tasked by Kelmen Demache to deliver a message to the group: Please come to my house today at your earliest convenience, and be presentable. Finishing breakfast, they gathered Hesken and – after Silt wisely decided that she should probably not wear her cloak of tattered human skin – headed off to see what the day had in store for them. Rounding the corner of the street on which Kelmen’s house lie, they immediately noticed a crowd of people milling about in front of the house. While Hesken irritably pushed his way through the crowd, Garrick used his glamoured armor to blend in (as much as a 7-foot tall Goliath can) with the crowd and ask what was going on. Mistly and Silt decided to creep around the back of the house and see if any trouble was brewing there.

Garrick discovered that a number of individuals were there because of rumors going around town that Kelmen was enslaving Elementals to power his weapons, a practice that they found detestable and planned to protest. Several other individuals hanging around on the periphery with quills and parchment at the ready turned out to be reporters, waiting for something to happen. As Hesken pounded on the front door, Witherton convinced a couple of the more hotheaded youths to rush the entrance, planning to sneak himself inside in the ensuing chaos. When the butler answered the door, they charged.

Garrick, seeing what was happening, cast Entangle, to trip up the trespassers as Witherton used his glowing wings – an aasimar ability – to both bypass the bothersome patch of writhing vines and get inside before anyone else. Eventually, the whole group was reunited inside as they waited for Kelmen to appear and explain the purpose of his summons. The businessman descends shortly after, clearly in the middle of getting dressed for a formal event, and explains that – after being delayed for reasons unknown – the Portal Gallery opening gala is finally happening and that he and his wife have secured invitations.

Unfortunately for Kelmen, an element (cough) of resistance seems to be gathering steam (cough) in the city opposing ElemenTech’s use of elementals. Fearing for their safety as well as their presentability in the upper echelon of society that Kelmen and especially his wife are hoping to break into. The party agrees to escort them to the gala and provide security, concocting a scheme in which they hire two enclosed planquins and send them in different directions, using the fastest members of the party as a decoy.

The plan goes off with only one minor hitch, that being a severely hungover Hesken performing a sustained march across the city in his full plate, but even then, they manage to keep the Demache’s safe and presentable when they arrive at the Portal Gallery. Inside, as the group loiters in lobby – not having invitations themselves – Silt starts using her abilities as a Horizon Walker to map out which plane each picture is tied. As she is writing down the list of portals, she senses a brief passing abnormality in some of them.

Confronting Caspian Galashield, the tycoon who owns the gallery, they realize that visitors are going into the paintings, but none have returned – including the Demaches. Instructing Galashield to distract the remaining partygoers with a speech, they deduce that their patron has entered a painting that appears to lead to the Feywild. Hesken is quick to leap in, while Silt and Witherton hang back debating what they should do. Garrick solves the problem by shoving them all in. Landing on top of Misty, who had ventured in just prior to see if they could come back (she couldn’t), they find themselves laying in a small stone archway built into a meandering stone wall running through a lush, idyllic rolling countryside.

In the distance they spy a pair of arches, topped by a vaguely familiar circular symbol. That’s when they notice the laughter …

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The Agony of Defeat
'Downtime' takes on new meaning

9-15 Sast, 1816 – Sigil

Recovering from their (relatively brief) slog through the Para-Elemental Plane of Ooze, the party takes some downtime.

The week is dominated by Hesken’s decision to ‘toughen up’ by participating in a series of pit fights held at the Agony – an establishment in the Lower Ward run by Yarkhotep (edit: double-check that), an Arcanoloth. Normally, a paladin of Paladine would never set foot in such an establishment, but the idea of bashing on some fiends while enhancing his combat prowess was too tempting for even him.

Silt and Misty, sensing an opportunity to expand their fledgling empire of ‘furry basement treats’ cut a deal with the wily fiend: half of the profits if they can sell to the spectators. They agree, intending to re-negotiate a better deal when their business model proves successful. The other party members even pitch in to help draw in bigger crowds and, thus, more demand for their concessions: Witherton uses his new staff to cause a massive thunderclap over Agony; Gerald charms a succubus on her way to work across the street at Ecstasy to in turn charm a number of passersby into attending that evening’s fight; Zilia attempts to play – poorly – on her pan pipes, but only succeeds in driving people away until Hesken suggests that she play at the next door bar’s open stage, driving a number of the patrons over to Agony. Garrick, for his part, uses druid-craft to create buffet of alluring odors to draw people in off the street.

Over the course of the week, Hesken participated in six bouts (subject to correction):

  • Losing to a female Half-elf wild magic sorcerer whose drunken braggadocio landed her in the pit
  • Winning versus a Halfling assassin wanted for murder on the planes
  • Winning versus a Gnome cleric that was missing his nose
  • Winning versus a Tiefling … (?)
  • Winning versus a Goliath barbarian—
  • Losing to a Dwarven wizard who had defied Paladine at some point and bore a scar to prove it

The final loss to a blasphemer was too much for Hesken, who quickly gave him to his tendency towards alcoholism and had to forcibly be carried home by Gerald’s zombies. When the despondent paladin tried to start a fight at the Drake – with Astrid, no less – on their return home, Witherton knocked him out cold, hoping a good night’s sleep would fix him.

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That Sinking Feeling
Treasure is found & a past is uncovered

As the party stood hesitant before the gargantuan tidal wave of ooze rearing before them, Igor – who came to find the group shortly before nightfall in Sigil – stepped forward and asked the creature if it intended to fight or eat them (options, the party pointed out, the were really one in the same). Suddenly, they sensed the ooze reaching into their minds, communicating not through words, but through sense and concepts. It revealed that, while it did consider them a potential meal, they might serve a greater purpose. The party discovered that there was a structure buried below the muck and mud of the surface that the ooze greatly wanted to invade. However, something inside – expressed to the adventurers as a simultaneous freezing/burning sensation – was keeping it out. If the party could remove this obstacle, it would allow them to be on their way. Battered, bloody, covered in slime, and unable to return to Sigil until nightfall passed, the group agreed.

The mountainous ooze flowed away from a space a little ways off from the Sigil portal to reveal a series of stones arranged in a forty foot square – identified as the crenelation of a tower. Digging around inside the perimeter of these stones, Misty found what felt like a trapdoor, which Hesken pulled open. Cautiously dropping into the darkness below, the group found themselves in an open room containing a number of tables on shelves. Books, beakers, vials, and other accoutrement revealed this to be a laboratory of some kind. A small shadow on one of the tables drifting behind sealed jars and beakers revealed that they were not alone.

Silt, who had recently begun pursuing an interest in alchemy, was extremely interested and discovered – to her delight – a reasonably friendly Alchemist’s Apprentice – a small ooze that is capable of producing common potions, oils, and tinctures once per day. As the owl-woman fawned over her new pet, Misty discovered a journal on a far counter, revealing that the party was now standing in a tower (albeit one that has since sunk into the mire of the Plane of Ooze) of a wizard who was researching oozes and managed to teleport his entire home into this, quite possibly the least attractive place to live in all the planes. The journal indicated that, after the betrayal of the wizard’s apprentice – an ambitious gnome by the name of Potkin – the tower’s defenses had been activated.

???, Day 2 – Para-Elemental Plane of Ooze

The party decided to fortify the room and take a long rest before venturing into the lower levels of the tower, where they fended off two different kinds of animated rug – one of which the party bound with rope to keep for themselves (mainly Silt) – a swarm of paper, a hostile scroll, and a weak floor to uncover the wizard’s spellbook, some gold, a magic dagger, and several potions.

Finally, in the lowest level of the small tower, the group encountered an animated suit of plate armor whose aura enveloped the greatsword it carried in flames that burned hot but then switched over to become unnaturally cold. After overwhelming the tower’s guardian, the party made two discoveries: First, a pile of ash with a amulet sticking out of it – identified as one of the amulets carried by the Red Monks of the Hidden Kingdom; Second, a staff of thunder of lighting – presumably belonging to tower’s previous owner.

The party escaped the tower as the eager ooze began to flow into it and, seeing the portal was no longer warped by darkness leaking through from Sigil, hopped back into the City of Doors with the rescued dabu, where they were greeted by the Lady herself and given a blessing— for the safe return of one of her faithful servants.

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Gettin' Down & Dirty
Misty really, really wants to go home

??? (Day 1), Para-Elemental Plane of Ooze

One of Gerald’s zombies reaches the unconscious form of the kidnapped dabus. As it reaches down, a vaguely serpentine ooze erupts up out the muck and grapples the reanimated corpse. Still bolstered by Zilia’s waterwalk spell, Misty rushes forward and attacks. Gerald sends his zombies forward to support the tabaxi monk, causing even more of the creatures – and some others besides – hiding in the muck to rise up, including the large form of a bipedal Corrupting Ooze – believed to be the kidnapper.

The battle is suddenly joined by a returning Silt, led by her keen Horizon Walker senses. Trudging up over the hill, Witherton also arrives on the scene, doing his best to keep up with the flying owl woman. Surveying the scene, Hesken finally charges the large ooze menacing Misty and lays into it with a mighty blow of his Frostbrand.

As the trio of Slithering Trackers grapple with Gerald’s zombies, Misty lands a highly effective stunning strike on the large Ooze as Silt performs multiple fly-bys and Witherton sends blast after blast of eldritch energy into the shambling forms of the Olive Slime Zombies closing in on their allies.

The party whittles down the collection of hungry oozes, taking hardly any damage in return, though finding themselves increasingly covered in foul-smelling muck from their attackers. Gerald’s zombies fare less well, however, getting beaten down and covered with the almost fuzzy-looking green slime that seems to be controlling the other zombie-like assailants.

Before long, the fight is over and the party sets to healing themselves and the unconscious kidnap victim over whom they were fighting. Misty, Hesken, and Silt – all of whom had been ‘slimed’ by the gross zombie-like creatures – became alarmed when they realized that the slime on their skin and armor was growing and would eventually overwhelm them. They quickly set about trying to remove the substance, harming themselves somewhat in the process.

As the group was checking themselves over to ensure the infestation had been dealt with, they failed to notice Gerald’s fallen zombies stirring back to life, now under the influence of the green slime. These were quickly dispatched, but not before Misty and Silt found themselves once again smeared with slime that had to be painfully scraped and burned off.

Out of danger for the moment, the group discussed whether they should go back to the portal that led to the Alehouse Drake, or use one of the numerous other ‘pothole portals’ that connected this plane to Sigil. Eventually they decided to find one that was on the way back to the original portal – preferably on the near side of the dipsa-filled river they had struggled to cross earlier.

Following Silt, they made their way across the slimy, mud-covered landscape until one of them notice what appeared to be a flock of birds heading their direction. Gerald recalled that birds were not native to the plane of ooze and that this was most likely a group of mud mephits on the hunt. The group immediately set about trying to cover and hide themselves in the muck, hoping the flock would pass them over. Unfortunately, the large silver form of Hesken was picked out by one of the more perceptive creatures and several of them dived in to attack. Having but a few seconds to act before they reached him, the rest of party decided to strike first, drawing the rest of the flock down on them.

Witherton blasted away at the mephits as Silt flew circles around them, slicing away. Misty took Witherton’s javelins and joined in the ranged attack as Gerald cast Toll of the Dead and Hesken prepared for them to close to melee range. Despite several exploding mephits restraining members of the party in sticky mud, though not before Hesken was felled by flurry of muddy fists hammering him into the soft mud below. Revived (once again) by Gerald, Hesken (somewhat reluctantly) rejoined the group in the land of the living as they finally spotted the portal they were seeking.

Unfortunately, as they drew near, the rasping hiss of whispers could be heard before they got to close. Looking at the portal, they notice the tell-tale distortion in the air over the portal that told them that night had fallen in Sigil and was leaking into this plane – and possibly others.

As the adventurers pondered the implications of this, they realized that the land on the far side of the portal was rippling and shifting. They watched in horror as a gargantuan tidal wave of ooze, far larger than any they had seen to this point, reared up beside the portal …

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Oozin' on Up
The party decides to take it slow

1 Sast (Epilogue)

As the party make their weary way back through the tunnels to the Alehouse Drake, they pass the smashed boards of the opening where they encountered the Ooblex that crept into the tunnels. Most of the party noticed the Mindflayers and Vampires who maintained the tunnels repairing the smashed barricade. The perceptive among them noticed that it was, in fact, their thralls doing all the work, and not the vamps or illithid themselves. Most perceptive of all – and, surprisingly, the only one with darkvision at the moment – the recently ‘healed’ Gerald looked past the construction to notice a ’flayer and vamp standing across from a sealed crate and barrel from one of the red monks. The monk bowed to the two, then turn and disappeared into the tunnels, leaving them to direct several thralls to move the crate and barrel elsewhere.

2-7th Sast, 1816 – Sigil

Despite being physically rested, the party was weary mentally and emotionally, having experienced quite a lot in a short period of time, even by the exceptional standards of City of Doors. The party decides to take some downtime over the coming week to recharge and become better acquainted with their recently acquired (Level 6) abilities.

Gerald and Zilia, being necromancers of the Mortuary, head back to the Jolly Swallow to claim the bodies left after the monstrous automata’s cloudkill attack in a crowded room. They encounter some fellow necromancers and, together, convince them to leave all the bodies in their care. Meanwhile, outside, Garrick uses his druid powers to help shift the tremendous amount of dirt blocking the street in front of the Swallow. He soon finds himself competing against several automata that have been set to work digging the place out. While moving a tremendous amount of dirt in a short period of time, Garrick finds himself a bit winded and bows out, catching up to his two necromancer allies and their (literal) floating pile of bodies.

Silt and Witherton both head off in different directions: Silt to get some dedicated time apprenticing with Senwa, and Witherton heading into the Elemental Plane of Fire seeking a group of ascetics known only as the ‘Waste Walkers.’ (In a bit of a retcon, Sane’s hibernation and shedding extend into this week, as well) Towards the end of the week, Misty volunteers to gather the scripts from Philo, who agreed to funnel money to the party on behalf of Kelmen in order to penetrate the Gearsmith’s room of crystals – as seen in the Watchman’s extracted memory crystal. Not trusting the slippery Tabaxi with anything shiny, Hesken accompanies her and the two find themselves in possession of five scripts worth 1,000 gp each – which they quickly convert to coin at the bank.

About mid-week, a message arrived at the Drake from Esmerelda Frosch expressing her appreciation at hearing that everyone survived the experience in the Mortuary sub-basement. The missive also revealed that the mage was aware of the party’s involvement at the Jolly Swallow a few nights prior and eager to speak with them about their experience and what they may have learned about the darkness.

Towards the end of the week, as the party is having breakfast in the Drake’s common room as Astrid is opening the shutters to a new day. The dwarven proprietor very nearly curses as she opens the front door to find a large mud puddle has formed right in front of her home and business. Mud puddles in Sigil being very dangerous, she gripes about the potential loss of business as the party starts to discuss what they might do to help. Before long, a dabus, one of Sigil’s mysterious inhabitants who share a special, albeit unexplained, bond with the Lady herself, comes along. Seeing the mud puddle, it sets to work repairing it. Suddenly, a muddy amorphous pseudopod surges up out of the grime, seizing the dabus and yanking it into the hole.

“Don’t just stand there – save ’im!” Astrid shouts and the party jumps (literally) into action, leaping into the large puddle – some a bit less enthusiastically than others.

??? (Day 1), Para-Elemental Plane of Ooze

The group members each erupt up from a nearly identical muddy puddle in the Para-Elemental Plane of Ooze and immediately set to following what appears to be the wake of something – a body, perhaps? – being dragged through the mud.

Led by Garrick, they slogging along through the muck and mud until they reach a low depression. The alert Goliath prevents the party from continuing down into it just as two oozes approach from either end – one a dark oily black, and the other a bright mustard yellow. The two blobs move down towards – and then into and through – each other, leaving behind a brownish-yellow mass in their wake.

Gerald, fascinated at witnessing what he can only assume is an ooze mating (a term used very loosely here) ritual, he wanders a bit too close and draws the attention of the three creatures. Reacting quickly, Zilia casts Bane on all three, as Hesken uses his Horn of Blasting to great effect, while both Garrick and Gerald buffet and push them with thunderwaves. Despite the hindrance of Zilia’s curse, Hesken falls before the Black Pudding when his horn explodes in his face. Garrick is nearly engulfed by the Mustard Jelly, but manages to wrestle his way out of what would have been a gruesome fate. Employing his zombies to draw the ooze attacks away from the party, Gerald – along with Scorching Rays from Garrick and Zilia – finally dispatched the oozes.

Misty, who had avoided the conflict, as she had no magic or weapons to harm the creatures, finally moved forward – and promptly started looting Hesken’s corpse. Unfortunately for her, she failed to notice Gerald, who brought him back, just as she was lifting Frostband.

The rescue party took a moment to heal, the resumed the chase. Before long, they found themselves on the steep, slippery banks of a muddy river. Sending one of the zombies in to test the water, they are unsurprised – but no less disconcerted – when the water starts churning around it, sinking out of sight about halfway across.

Hesken proposes using his ice-breath to cover a portion of the channel – possibly incorporating the dead bodies that Gerald is lugging around in his Bag of Holding – to float across, but fails to generate enough ice. The heavily-armored paladin slips on the steep embankment and tumbles into the river, barely making it out before the unseen surging mass below the surface reaches him. The group continues debating the best way of crossing the large stream when Zilia finally remembers that she had access to a particular spell – waterwalk – that would allow them to simply walk over the hazard.

Making sure to spread out, lest a single group of them draw whatever was living under the water to them, they began to walk over – Gerald and Garrick both slipping on the uneven surface and drawing the unseen assailants different directions. Fortunately, everyone was able to regain their footing and make it up and over the far bank, leaving the writhing swarm of Dipsa to turn back towards what was believed to an aquatic nest.

Continuing to benefit from Zilia’s waterwalk, the pursuers make good time over the low hills and eventually come within sight of a large bipedal figure dragging something behind it. As they close the distance between them, the group briefly loose sight of what they believe is their quarry. Topping a final rise, they are surprised to see that the figure has disappeared without a trace in the fairly open terrain, leaving the still form lying in the muck. As they approach what they realize is the kidnapped dabu, figures explode up out of the mud and muck around them …

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Resolution and Revelations
The longest day finally ends

1 Sast, 1816 (cont’d) – Sigil

The monstrosity was gone – banished by Meloriss – but the whispers still swirled about in the tavern, which now looked more like a morgue. Bodies lay strewn about, the majority felled by the toxic cloud spewed into crowd by the corrupted automata. It was into this scene, as the last remaining survivors (not including our intrepid adventurers) scattered into the tunnels below Sigil’s streets, that Misty – who had ventured out to find Pippa – arrived. Fighting to resist the affects of the maddening whispers, the party worked on sealing the broken door and trying to heal up before the banished automata – if it could still be considered as such – returned. Well, all except for Misty, who started rifling through the pockets of the newly deceased, much to the consternation of the two Harmonium officers.

Eventually, the tavern was sealed (with authority, by Garrick’s Erupting Earth spell) and the party turned to deal with the remaining automata – the Bouncer – in the room. A moment before, as the whispers had been swirling about, it had been shaking, as if buffed by an unseen force. At some point, however, it became stock still and unresponsive. Several members of the party deduced that the whispers had corrupted the tiny oozes that burned the neural pathways into the sensate crystals that comprised its operating system, and was currently undergoing a rewrite. When it came back online, it would no doubt be hostile. Silt started working at separating the head from the body using acid, and was helped by Izzy, who rapidly cooled the exothermic reaction with a blast of her elemental magic and both Codex and Zilia, who hammered it with Eldritch Blasts and a warhammer, respectively. Finally, Pippa completed the task by conjuring a thorn whip and yanking the metal cranium from its body before it reactivated.

Having the better part of a minute left to them before the main antagonist reappeared, the party set up cover, cleared floor space, and continued to heal in preparation. When it reappeared, it managed only to score a couple of hits on Hesken before being taken down by the combined forces of the (partially) rejuventated PC’s, Kenneth, and Meloriss.

Shortly after, the Harmonium arrived, summoned via Leonard’s Harmonium Sending Stone and started taking statements and collecting evidence. Silt managed to talk them into letting her keep the skin that the monstrous automata had draped over its twisted frame, discovering a ring that was on one of the dangling fingers. Inspecting it, the bird woman discovered that it was a Ring of Three Wishes – now down to a single remaining wish – which Misty immediately tried (and failed) to steal.

Even the excitement over getting a wish was quickly overridden by the scene playing out off to the side between Kenneth and Meloriss. They spoke, but the more astute viewers noticed that Kenneth, while obviously smitten, seemed to be chatting like an awkward teenager meeting his fantasy crush for the first time. Meloriss, for her part, was kind, but radiated sadness. Eventually, the two parted, Leonard dragging Kenneth away, and the ladies in the party rounded on Meloriss, determined to get the details on their curiosu relationship.

Meloriss reveled that she and Kenneth had indeed met and lived out their adolescence in a carnival, traveling the planes and seeing many amazing things. Eventually, they decided to strike out on their own, as mercenaries and lovers. Selling their swords eventually led to adventuring with a party – one that was spirited to Sigil by the Lady of Pain in much the same way the PC’s had been recruited. Absentmindedly touching the faded circle under the elegant bracelet on her forearm, Meloriss told them about the Illithid colony that was attempting to gain a foothold in Sigil and overthrow the Lady. During the final battle with the colony’s elders, Meloriss found herself at the mercy of one of the flayers, on the verge of having her brain forcibly extracted. Kenneth threw himself between them, getting a nasty bite on the side of his head (some of the sharp-eyed party members had noticed that Kenneth wore his hair long – covering the scars – whereas all the other Harmonium officers were clean shaven with short hair). Meloriss, freed from the villain’s grip recovered and cut off one of the ’flayer’s four tentacles before it fled. The colony collapsed and the few remaining members that stayed in Sigil became just another gang, struggling for survival in the City of Doors.

Kenneth, unfortunately, had sustained a serious brain injury. While he was healthy in every other respect, his memory and personality were forever changed – including his memories of their time together. Unable to cope with seeing her lover in such a state, she left him in Sigil, where the Lady saw to it he would be taken care of in the Harmonium. It was there that Leonard was assigned to be his minder, patiently helping the former adventurer recover and keeping him out of trouble.

As the party made their way back through the tunnels to the Alehouse Drake (dabbing at what were certainly not tears) they began discuss how a wish might serve to give this tragic tale a happy ending …

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